Monday, February 28, 2011

What does it all mean?

The night before last I had a dream that I have been unable to shake.  It was so unsettling and I keep thinking that there is something in it that I was supposed to learn or to hear.  I can't figure out if it is my subconscious trying to tell me about something that I am repressing or if it was Wayne himself trying to tell me something through a dream.  Maybe it really was nothing, but it sure doesn't feel like nothing.

Wayne came to visit me here in Indy.  I don't remember what he came for; I almost think it was a funeral.  But he came to be with me and to support me.  The morning that he was supposed to leave he missed his flight.  I was so worried about him not getting back home. We got in the car and drove to a place where he could see if they would let him change his ticket for another flight the same day.  He went into the store and I stayed in the car, parked across the street.  I saw him come out and he called me on my cell phone.  He told me that they had given him a ticket for a flight that left in 30 minutes.  I told him that I couldn't get him to the airport in time so he needed to go back and ask for something different.  I could see him standing on the corner, but for some reason I drove away and went to another place to try and figure something out so that I could get him back home.  After I had talked to the lady at the new place I called him.  He was so sad and hurt that I had left him.  He told me that he had just decided to walk.  But not only that; the place he had walked to was the condo where we lived at the time he passed away.  I remember asking him how he got in because it has been sold and he told me that someone was there that let him in.  I was suddenly overcome with such sadness and guilt for leaving him standing on that corner all alone.  I remember pleading with him over the phone asking him to forgive me.  Then I told him that I loved him....and he didn't reply...the line just went dead.

The only thing that I can think of is that either I am feeling like I have abandoned him or he thinks I have.  Either way it is definitely something that I need to work though; I just don't know how...

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

One Year

Exactly one year ago tonight I went to bed with my husband curled up by my side, without the slightest indication that my life would change forever in a matter of hours.

Tonight part of me just wants to curl up under the covers, close my eyes, and get this night over with.  While another part, keeps holding on to the hope that somehow, some way, he will find a way to let me know that he is with me tonight.  If I stay up just a little bit longer, maybe I will feel his touch or hear his voice just one more time. 

I have so many friends and family members who have given me their love and support over this past year, yet there is still only one pair of arms that I crave.  One pair of arms that, if wrapped around me, would make all of my fears and sadness go away.  One pair of arms that I miss more than anything.  The one pair of arms that I can no longer have.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Flashbacks - Part 3 of 3

Early Tuesday Morning


I followed the firemen and Wayne down the stairs. As they got him onto the stretcher and started to load him up into the ambulance I called Wayne’s parents. I didn’t want to worry them too much because after what the firemen had said, I figured that this would just be a trip to the E.R. for a breathing treatment or two and then we would be back home. They wanted to come to the E.R. anyway, so I told them how to get to the hospital and they started their 1 hour trip to the hospital.

The bishop said goodbye and headed home as I got into my car. I drove to the hospital alone. As I was pulling into the parking lot, so did the ambulance that carried Wayne. They had him stable enough so it wasn’t a lights and sirens type of occasion. As the ambulance drove over to their entrance, I parked and entered through the other E.R. entrance where admitting is. When I walked in, there was a man and a couple of other people sitting in the waiting area. The nurses desk was empty. As I stood at the desk waiting, I heard someone call for a repertory team to the E.R. over the intercom. It was almost like a voice in my head, clearly said that it was for Wayne. I still wasn’t too worried. Maybe it was a bit more serious than we had thought, but it would probably just be a day or two in the hospital and everything would be fine.

I am guessing that at this point, the man in the waiting area could tell I was getting a bit anxious and he told me that the nurse had gone down the hall to the patient admitting desk. I walked down there and found her working on Wayne’s paperwork. She was really nice and said that she understood that I wanted to get this done quickly so that I could get back to Wayne. We quickly went over our insurance information and I paid the $100 copay for the E.R. visit. She then told me what room Wayne was in and started to walk me through and point me in the right direction. As I walked down the hall, I noticed that there was quite a commotion going on in one of the rooms. Suddenly a security guard came running out of the room, put his hand up and said “she can’t come in here.” The nurse from the desk said “this is his wife.” The security guard looked and me and said “you can’t come in here, wait right there.” It was only then that it dawned on me; the commotion was coming from Wayne’s room.

I stood there in the hallway, rooted to the floor. I couldn’t move. I didn’t know what to think. After what seemed like an eternity, but I am sure it was only a matter of a minute or two, the same security guard came over and took an office chair from the trauma nurses desk. He pushed the chair up against the wall across from the desk and asked me to sit down. I sat there in a kind of daze, only half aware of all the noise coming from Wayne’s room. I just stared straight in front of me…in a sort of trance…watching the bleep bleep bleep of the heart monitors on the trauma desk. Then I noticed that one of those heart monitors didn’t look right. Just as I noticed that it was different than the others, it flat lined, and the words “Time of Death” appeared above it. My stomach hit the floor…had I just watched someone die? Then the line started moving again and the words disappeared.

I just sat there staring at this person’s life weaving in and out. Then my brain started working in over drive. It was like there was something there that I needed to know, that I should know but I couldn’t put my finger on it. I counted the heart monitors. There were 4. I looked up and started to count the rooms lined up in front of the desk: 1,2,3,4. It was monitor 1 that had flatlined…Wayne was in the 1st room.

While the reality of the situation began to sink in, I was still in complete denial. I immediately had thoughts of going into his room after everything was okay again and holding him while I told him how close we had been to losing him. It never occurred to me at that point that he might not make it. I was scared enough to call his parents again. I called and asked how close they were. Wayne’s mom told me where they were and then asked why. I couldn’t tell her what I had just seen. The words “Time of Death” just kept flashing through my mind. I told her that I would tell them when they got there. She started to cry and I followed up with “I just don’t want to be here by myself anymore.”

Almost as soon as I hung up the phone, a doctor came out of Wayne’s room and walked up to me. She said that as they were taking Wayne out of the ambulance his heart had stopped and he had stopped breathing. She said that they were doing everything they could and that she would be back out to give me more information as soon as she could. Suddenly I couldn’t take my eyes off of that heart monitor. I just kept willing his heart to keep beating. The sounds coming from his room were suddenly so clear it was almost as though I were in the room. I heard them calling for X-Rays, and blood transfusions, and things that I had only before heard on hospital drama television shows. I had to be dreaming right? I was still in my bed with my husband sleeping nearby…it was just a nightmare. I had to wake up.

Wayne’s parents got there and ran up to me asking where he was. I pointed to the room and tried to tell them that they wouldn’t let us in. Wayne’s dad barreled down the hall. No one was going to tell him he couldn’t see his son. The security guard stopped him. They started a vigil next to me. I think I tried telling them what I knew, but it is all pretty much a blur. It is like at that point I no longer had to carry the burden alone so it was finally okay for me to go somewhere else in my mind for a few minutes and try to get away. I know that at some point someone got a chair for Wayne’s mom and she sat next to me. I remember staring at that heart monitor; all the bells and alarms that kept going off every time that his heart stopped. I began to be able to tell the difference between his heart actually beating on its own and when they were doing CPR. I couldn’t take it anymore, so I got up and went to the bathroom. When I got there I just wanted to cry or to throw up or something…but I couldn’t do anything other than sit there and stare at the blank wall. So, I went back to my post, watching the heart monitor.

The doctor came back out to talk to us. She said that they had done everything they could and that it just wasn’t taking. She said that they would get his heart started again and then it would just stop and they would have to start over again. She said that they would try one more time, but if he didn’t pull through this time, she was going to call it. Wayne’s dad asked the doctor what she meant. She looked at him straight and said “We don’t think he is going to make it.” She told us that if we wanted, she would let us in the room with him this time. She warned us that it was pretty ugly in there and that we would have to stay back. I couldn’t do it. As much as I wanted to be with him, I just couldn’t bear the thought of seeing him like that. Wayne’s mom couldn’t either. Wayne’s dad went in to the room, and didn’t leave his side as far as I am aware.

I called my sister. I told her where I was and that they didn’t think Wayne was going to make it. It was when I finally allowed myself to say the words out loud that the tears started. She said that they would come and I told her how to get there. A few minutes later the hospital chaplain came and took us to a waiting room. It didn’t seem like it was much longer after that when they came in to tell us that Wayne was gone. Somewhere in the midst of this Wayne’s brother and sister came. I don’t remember if they got there before or after the doctor called it. I remember my sister, her husband, and my mom coming in shortly after I had been told Wayne was gone. I looked at them and asked them if someone had told them. They said no. I had to tell them that Wayne was gone. My brother came shortly after that. I called my bishop and told him; he was in shock. I called my boss to tell him that I wouldn’t be in to work for a while.

After that it was like we all just sat together in stunned silence. Eventually they moved us to a bigger waiting room because our group had gotten so big. I looked around the room and realized amidst all the grief that I was truly blessed. Within an hour or two, I had gone from sitting alone in an office chair in a brightly lit hospital hallway watching my husband’s heart stop over and over again to being surrounded by so many people who loved both me and my husband.

I did cry a lot while I was at the hospital but I tried not to cry too much. I didn’t want to hurt Wayne’s family more by letting them see how much pain I was in when they were already hurting so much themselves. But, most of all I was afraid that if I lost control that I wouldn’t be able to stop. People started asking me questions about funeral homes and arrangements and I couldn’t even think. I had no money to bury my husband with. I didn’t know what to do. Wayne’s parents said that they would take care of the cost, but they still wanted me to make the majority of the arrangements and I was completely at a loss. I was only 29. I didn’t know what to do. My sister stepped in and helped make arrangements for a funeral home to come and pick him up. At that point, I just wanted to go home.

Everyone kept trying to get me to go somewhere other than the house, but I needed to go. They didn’t understand that I needed a few hours to allow myself to grieve alone. I finally talked them in to letting me go home for a few hours by myself and pack a bag before I would go up and stay with Wayne’s parents for a while.

I went home and put on one of Wayne’s favorite sweatshirts that hadn’t been washed since he had worn it last. I walked down the hall and saw his cane still on the floor where he had tried to use it to stand up. The bowl I had held for him lay forgotten on the bathroom floor along with one of the washcloths I had held to the back of his neck. All of them sitting there like ghosts in the morning.

I crawled into bed and cried like I have never cried before. I called out Wayne’s name and begged him not to leave me like this. I told him that I didn’t know what I was going to do without him. I told him that I loved him and that I was so sorry that I hadn’t done more for him. I yelled out for him. And then I fell asleep.

Flashbacks - Part 2 of 3

Tuesday....ish


I woke up to a loud crash down the hall. The room was pitch black in darkness. I reached over to Wayne's side of the bed and it was empty. As my eyes started to adjust to the darkness I could see our bedroom door was open and there was light coming out from under the bathroom door down the hall. My heart began to race and I got a sick feeling in my throat. I quickly jumped out of bed and ran down the hall to the bathroom door. I couldn't hear anything. I knocked lightly on the door and called Wayne's name and he didn't answer. I tried again...silence. I grabbed the door knob and tried to open the door, but it was locked....he never locks the door. I knocked a bit louder this time, and called to him...nothing. My heart started to beat faster and harder and fear started to grip me right to my middle.

Suddenly I heard a gagging noise coming from the other side of the door, followed by a cough. I called Wayne's name again and was answered by a moaning noise. With each breath that he took, he let out this horrible moaning/wheezing sound. I asked if he was okay, and through the moaning I heard him reply "I don't know." I asked him if he fell and replied "I don't know." I asked if he could unlock the door. I heard something slide across the floor and the locked clicked.

I opened the door to find him huddled in a ball on the bathroom floor. He was covered in sweat and his skin felt like it was on fire. I grabbed a washcloth, got it wet with really cold water from the sink and placed it on his forehead. I put my hand to one of his cheeks and made him look at me. His face was pale and wet, and his eyes....as he looked at me with those eyes....I have never felt so helpless in my life. I kept taking the washcloth and getting it cold again. His skin was so hot that the cloth was hot all the way through mere moments after I placed it on his skin. After 4 or 10 minutes he was finally able to get up into a sitting position but he couldn’t stand and he couldn’t talk. I started putting the cloth on the back of his neck. I knew that I had to get him to the E.R. but I wasn’t quite sure how to do it. He didn’t want me to call 911. I sat there on the floor with him, stroking his hair, and telling him that I loved him…I didn’t know what else to do. Finally he looked at me and put his hand on top of his head. He wanted a blessing.

Now I had a purpose; something I could do. I ran to the kitchen, grabbed the phone and dialed the number of one of our home teachers. He just so happened to live in the same building as us; we shared a common wall. No answer. I tried again, no answer. I grabbed some slippers and ran to his front door. I knocked and knocked again…no answer. I ran back to my house and called the bishop…no answer. I started to feel helpless again. I didn’t know what to do. Then the phone in my hand rang, it was the bishop calling me back. He didn’t really want to come out at midnight. He hesitated and asked me if I was sure it couldn’t wait until morning. When I insisted that I needed his help, he agreed to come.

As we waited, I never left Wayne’s side. I started asking him questions, just to keep him with me. Through his whispered answers I was able to piece a little bit together and figure out what had happened. He had woken up in the middle of the night and needed to use the restroom. He said that he remembered walking into the bathroom and turning to close the door, and then everything went black until he heard me asking him to unlock the door. Apparently he had fainted as he turned to close the door. When he blacked out, his body slumped against the door, causing it to slam which is what woke me up.

About 10 minutes after my call, the bishop knocked on the door wearing his suit and tie. He hadn’t been able to get anyone else so he had come alone. He followed me up stairs to the bathroom where my husband still sat on the floor. As we entered the room Wayne started to gag. I grabbed a bowl and got back to him just as the vomiting started. Uncontrollable vomiting. The bishop had to go out into the hall because he couldn’t stomach it. Under any other circumstances I wouldn’t have been able to stomach it either, but something came over me that night. I held the bowl for him. I continued to stroke his hair and rub his back while repeating over and over again that I loved him. It was all I could do. I felt so helpless.

Finally there was a lull in the vomiting episode and the bishop came in and gave Wayne a blessing. When the blessing was over, we knew that we had to get Wayne to the E.R. The bishop coaxed Wayne into trying to scoot instead of walk. Wayne made it about 3 feet, into the hallway, before he couldn’t go any further. The bishop asked him if he wanted to just lie on the floor and take a nap first. I immediately panicked at the suggestion and told Wayne that if he lay down on the floor I was calling 911. I knew in my heart that if he laid down he was never going to get back up again, and I wasn’t going to let him give up. The bishop saw my fear and he let it go. After about 10 more minutes, we knew that there was no way that we were going to be able to get Wayne to my car by ourselves. We needed an ambulance, so I picked up the phone and did something I should have done the moment after I woke up to the sound of him passing out against the bathroom door…I called 911.

The fire department was there in a matter of minutes. They hooked him up to a couple of machines and they kept telling him that he needed to take some deep breaths because his oxygen was low. They seemed to think that it was the low oxygen that was causing all of the problems (in a round about way they were correct). They put an oxygen mask on him and that seemed to help a bit. I felt so alone while they worked on him. Before they had gotten there, I had barely left Wayne’s side and I wasn’t able to be there with him while they were working on him. Besides, they kept asking me questions and needed me elsewhere. They then told him that due to the layout of our condo, they couldn’t take him out on a stretcher. He was going to have to walk down the stairs. It took them a little bit of time, but they were finally able to get him up, with one of them on each side. As they started walking him down the stairs, Wayne turned and said “My Phone.” It was the clearest thing he had said all night and I replied telling him that I had it. With those two words I knew that he was telling me to call his parents. What I didn't know was that those were the last two words that I would ever hear him speak, and that would also be the last time I ever saw him alive.

Flashbacks - Part 1 of 3

Right after Wayne passed away, I used to have flashbacks all of the time. They would occur pretty much anytime things were quiet and I didn't have anything else for my mind to think about. I used to hate driving because almost as soon as the engine started I would be back in my bed, waking to a loud crash down the hall. Over time the flashbacks got further and further apart. They stopped all together a few months ago....until the night before last. It is almost as though I am right back in those days right after he died....every time there is a quite moment I am back there...reliving the worst nightmare of my life. This morning as I woke up with the remnants of a very bright hospital hallway still lingering in my mind, I thought that maybe it is time that I finally write it down and let go of the details that I have been holding in for a year.

Friday

It was just like any other Friday afternoon at work. Things were busy but starting to wind down. Wayne was at work that day too, which was a place he hadn't been for quite a while. He had been picking up contracts after being laid off almost a year prior, and the contract he was currently working was one that they wanted him in the office for.

My cell phone rang and it was Wayne. I remember looking at the clock thinking it was a bit odd because it was 1pm. I could normally tell you exactly what time it was by Wayne's phone calls. He would always call me at 11:30am when he went to lunch and then he would call me again at 4pm when he was leaving work and heading home. Even after he go laid off, he kept the same schedule with the phone calls...habit I guess.

I answered the phone and my concern increased. He sounded worried; almost scared. He told me that he had gone downstairs at the office to use the restroom and when he got back upstairs he couldn't breath. He said that no matter how hard he tried he just couldn't catch his breath and he didn't feel very well either. I asked him if he wanted me to come get him and he said no. He said that he was going to just head home and rest for a while. I asked him if he wanted me to go home early and sit with him and he said no to that as well. I told him to make sure to call me when he got home and he said that he would.

About an hour later he called and said that he was at home. I asked him again if he wanted me to come home as well and he told me not too. He said that he was starting to feel better all ready and it was no big deal. I translated that to mean that it was Friday and he just didn't want to work anymore so he had come up with a reason to go home...men, right?

That night I got home and he seemed okay. He was tired and looked kind of warn out but he really did look okay. Maybe he was coming down with the flu?

Saturday

We got up on Saturday and Wayne said that he was feeling great. It must have been just a little bug or something. The doctor had told him last week that he was clear to start exercising so he wanted to go over to the clubhouse in our neighborhood and workout for a while. We got dressed and I grabbed my MP3 player with a walking program on it and we headed over. I jumped on the treadmill and started my program while he kind of walked around the room for a minute trying to decide what he wanted to do. He decided that the elliptical would be good and jumped up on it. About 2 minutes in he was off again. He said that it hurt his foot and it kind of made his chest hurt so he switched over to the stationary bike and started on that. 3 minutes later and he had stopped that too. He said that he was having a hard time breathing again. I asked him if he wanted to go back over to the house and he told me to finish my walk. In all honesty, I got kind of frustrated with him. I figured that he had just decided that he didn't want to work out after all. So, he sat there on the bike and watched me finish my 30 minutes on the treadmill.

When I was done, we walked back over to the house and went in. He struggled a little bit with the stairs, but not too much. He said that he just wanted to rest. Over then next hour or two he seemed to get better again. He said that as long as he didn't exert too much effort that he felt fine. So, we stayed in for the rest of the day and let him get some rest.

Sunday

Wayne wasn't feeling very well when we got up on Sunday morning. He said that he was having a hard time breathing when ever he got up to use the restroom. I decided that it was time to get him to a doctor. I looked up the local urgent care center and found that it opened at 10 or 11, I can't remember now. We were there when it opened and he was the first patient the doctor saw. The doctor checked his foot for additional infection just in case and said that it was fine. They took a couple of chest X-Rays. I remember that while we were waiting for the doctor, Wayne kept looking at me with this helpless look on his face. I kept joking with him, telling him not to look at me that way. The doctor ended up diagnosing him with Bronchitis. He sent him home with a couple of inhalers and said that he would be good as new in a few days.

That night, I started to feel like I was coming down with something as well. I felt like I had been running a marathon. I didn't feel like I couldn't breath; I just felt tired.

Monday

I woke up on Monday still feeling run down. Wayne was worse. He couldn't even shift positions on the couch without getting completely winded. I called in sick to work that day. As we sat on the couch watching TV, Wayne started giving me that look again...the one he had been giving me at the doctor's office. It was like he was begging me to do something. I knew in my gut that something was really wrong. I called his doctor as soon as they opened and got him an apt for the same day.

His doctor ran a few more tests; took some more X-rays. They gave him a breathing treatment which seemed to help a little bit. The doctor confirmed the previous diagnosis of Bronchitis and sent him home again. I spent the rest of the day doing everything I could to make Wayne comfortable. I made sure that he had his meds, and that he ate. The only times he got up from the couch were to go to the restroom and then when we went to bed.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

It was really me all along

Over the past year I have been very blessed to have become acquainted with many other women and men who have also lost their spouses.  While I will forever be grateful for all of their love and support, I have to admit that after speaking with them or reading their blogs I often find myself wondering what is wrong with me. 

Everyone who has experienced a great loss no matter what that loss is will tell you that everyone grieves differently. They say that you can't compare your grief to that experienced by others. While I have seen that this is true beyond a doubt, there are some experiences that they all seem to share.  They all talk about experiencing physical pain of some sort.  They talk about periods of uncontrollable tears.  The amount of time that they each experience these things is different, but they all seem to say that they have experienced it at one point or another during their grieving process.  I never have.

The experience I have had with my grief seems so mild compared to everyone else who has walked this road.  I often find myself asking if I didn't love him enough.  I often feel guilty for not grieving for him as much as I feel I should; as much as I feel he deserves to be grieved for.  Every time that someone tells me how they can't believe how "strong" I have been through all of this, my guilt increases.

I remember saying multiple times after Wayne passed away that I felt like I had completely lost my sense of identity.  The things that I used to love doing didn't even remotely appeal to me anymore.  I felt lost almost all of the time and I began to question whether I had ever really had my own identity.  I started to think that I had created my identity around Wayne and that I hadn't actually ever taken the time to figure out who I was as an individual.  I set out trying to figure out who I was.  I felt that I needed to create an identity for myself. 

Over the past few weeks, I have really started to finally settle in o my new life here in Indiana.  I have made some new friends and I have gotten into a routine.  I also started my Butterfly Project which I am still really excited about.    This morning as I was going about my Saturday, I experienced a moment of clarity.  If I look back over these past few weeks, there are multiple instances where I can see the person that I used to be before Wayne passed away.  As hard as I have tried over the past year to create my new identity, now that I have started to feel comfortable living with my new life, my "false" identity that I had lost when Wayne died has decided to reappear.

The person that I was when Wayne was alive, was really me all along.....I have just been grieving.....in my own way.